16 Sit-Down Restaurants Where You Can Have A Nice Meal With Kids

Where to have a sit-down meal with children in Chicago.
16 Sit-Down Restaurants Where You Can Have A Nice Meal With Kids image

photo credit: Sandy Noto

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re looking to plan a dinner out with young kids. Maybe your own kids, maybe your friends’ kids, maybe your kids’ kids. Whoever these kids are, you’d like to have a sit-down meal with them, and you need a place where everyone can both have a good time and eat genuinely good food. Here’s our guide to 16 restaurants in Chicago that make it easy. If you’re truly desperate, you can even print this out and bring it along for the kids to color on. We won’t be offended, although your kids might be when they realize it’s not very good coloring material.


photo credit: Las Fuentes Group



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerDinner with the Parents


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On a gray and rainy day, take the brood to Manchamenteles in Logan Square. The wood-fire meats at this large, lively Mexican restaurant are perfectly cooked, but we like how colorful the place is, including the ceiling that’s painted with blue skies. Pair the complex mole negro or tender pork shoulder with a generously poured margarita while the little ones work through their kid’s menu quesadillas and point at decor that’s far more stimulating than an iPad.

Have you ever been in a room for 10 minutes before noticing someone else was in there with you? That inoffensive blend-into-the-scenery person is The Smith, a mini-chain restaurant based out of New York. Its menu and space are designed to appeal to the largest amount of people possible, including children. So come here next time your entire family is in River North and wants a range of options like burgers, salads, pizza, fried chicken, bibimbap, steak, and mac and cheese, plus maybe some crayons and a high chair.

Ina Mae is a casual restaurant in Wicker Park serving New Orleans–inspired food. The menu is hit or miss, but they do have good po’boys, fried chicken, and beignets. And with a large bar area and friendly staff, this is a great neighborhood spot for having a group dinner that includes children.

All the things we like most about the Big Star in Wicker Park—the huge patio, solid tacos, and fun atmosphere—are in full effect at the Wrigleyville location. But unlike the original, this version is twice the size and very family-friendly. Just check the Cubs schedule before heading here with tired and hungry kids, because it’s right across from the stadium and gets incredibly busy on game day.

photo credit: Sun Wah

$$$$Perfect For:Big Groups

Sun Wah in Uptown can help educate your wee ones on the value of communication—unless you ask for the duck special from this Chinese restaurant, you won’t be offered it. This off-menu highlight, one of many tasty shareable dishes here, has the bird carved tableside before roasted pieces are then served with baos, soup, and fried rice or noodles. Sun Wah’s large dining room also has plenty of space for high chairs and large groups, which is ideal if you’re taking the kids on a tour of the city’s best Chinese restaurants.

Monteverde is usually our first recommendation when someone is looking for outstanding pasta. It also happens to be great for eating out with kids. There’s even a dedicated kids’ menu, with a few pasta dishes and things like chicken tenders. On the regular menu, we particularly recommend the cacio e pepe and the pork shank.

Summer House is a good for a lot of different situations, whether it’s catching up with your vegetarian/gluten-free ex-roommate or coming alone and only getting treats from the pastry case. This versatility extends to eating with kids, since this is another spot with a dedicated children’s menu. Plus, the space is large and crowded, so any childish behavior won’t stand out (unless it’s yours—you should know better).

When your kids demand pizza for the third time in a week, make their demands work in your favor by going to Middlebrow in Logan Square. It doesn’t hurt that the craft beers and wines at this brewery are, like the pies, exceptional. Middlebrow has a casual space, where you’re as likely to see dogs and babies bumbling around as much as awkward first dates. And their tavern-style special on Tuesday is worthy of becoming a new family tradition. On any day, order their delicious soppressata, which is named “a sunday afternoon on a patio in Bushwick in 2008,” so you can spend a few beats reminiscing about pre-diaper days as the little ones tackle their pizza.

Southport Corridor is a family-friendly neighborhood, so any meal you eat around here will probably involve kids—yours or someone else’s. Going to Coda Di Volpe, which serves very good Italian food like wood-fired pizzas and housemade pastas, is no exception. The dining room is large, with plenty of tables, big booths, and room for high chairs. Just keep the scissors (which you use to cut your pizza at the table) away from anyone young enough to throw a tantrum if they lose a game of War. Including your 30-year-old brother.

This Japanese restaurant in River North serves excellent food, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. A meal here will be affordable, and the atmosphere will likely be loud enough that when the younger members of your party decide to serenade you with off-key renditions of their favorite songs, some people might not even notice. Also, the bathroom sign is a giant poop emoji. These things, plus incredibly friendly service, make it a solid choice when you’re with kids.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is a fun restaurant with solidly good tapas and great sangria. It’s also lively enough that no one will act annoyed if the kids at your table get rambunctious. Kids get a free pintxo of carrots and hummus, and the children’s menu has tapas like chicken or beef a la plancha and a vegetable paella. There’s also mac and cheese, because it’s the universal food for “just stop whining and eat this” (that goes for adults, too).

When you think of eating out with children, French restaurants might not immediately come to mind. But Mon Ami Gabi, in Lincoln Park, understands that there are eight-year-olds who appreciate escargot. (There’s also a kids’ menu with things like steak frites and mac and cheese, just in case.) No one has to get dressed up to come here, but if you’re looking for an excuse to see your four-year-old nephew in that tuxedo he wore at your wedding, feel free to lie and say it’s black tie. Just be prepared to pick up the bill when his parents realize what you’ve done.

An excellent, family-friendly option for a special occasion. There’s even a kids’ menu with things like a petite filet mignon and a crab cake. All in all, a good place to start training children for the Chicago steakhouse way of life.

This Costa Rican spot has a large, covered patio and very friendly service. In other words, it’s the kind of place that makes you feel good the moment you walk in. The atmosphere is upbeat, and the menu is long, with lots of sandwiches, empanadas, and entrees like casado, a Costa Rican specialty with skirt steak, an over-easy egg, and plantains. (Don’t miss the delicious oatmeal shake, either.)

An all-day cafe serving upscale takes on diner food. Little Goat is from the chef behind Girl and The Goat, so you can expect similarly high-quality food. They serve breakfast (like their Fat Elvis waffles, with peanut butter-flavored butter, banana, and bacon maple syrup) all day, as well as things like grilled cheese and chicken fingers that you’ll want to steal off the kids’ plates when they get distracted ... or claim they’re full after 64 seconds.

This very casual restaurant in Pilsen serves excellent Mexican food. Anything from the long menu will be delicious, but know that some things are incredibly spicy (the servers are really accommodating if you want to make any adjustments). If you’re still hungry after your queso, tacos, and tortas, the desserts, like bread pudding topped with strawberry ice cream, will please everyone at the table.

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